There are only six deputies in the Josephine County, Oregon Sherriff’s Office, and resources are so sparse that a woman was raped last year after an emergency dispatcher told her four times over the phone there was no one to help her.
It was last August, and a woman was brutally raped and sodomized by her abusive ex-boyfriend after unsuccessfully pleading with a 911 dispatcher for over 10 minutes.
“I’m not letting him in, but he’s, like, tried to break down the door, and he’s trying to break into one of the windows,” the woman is heard telling the operator in the calls.
“He put me in the hospital a few weeks ago, and I’ve been trying to keep him away,” she said.
Four times during that call, the operator told the woman that she wasn’t able to provide assistance.
“I don’t have anybody to send out there,” she kept saying. “Once again, it’s unfortunate you guys don’t have any law enforcement up there.”
At the county jail, staffing cuts caused by a lack of funding has formed a revolving door system where inmates are released sometimes right after being arrested because there’s seldom enough money to keep facilities functioning at even the bare minimum. There are only six deputies in the Josephine Sherriff’s Office, and recently the department’s canine unit was cut to a single dog.
“You may want to consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services,” the department cautioned the county’s 80,000 or so residents last year.
Although a Wild West-like scenario has spiraled out of control in the Pacific Northwest, residents voted against a measure Tuesday that would have funded much-needed law enforcement operations at the cost of only a 3 percent tax levy.
The measure would have bumped the county government tax rate — currently the lowest in the state — to $1.48 per $1,000, in turn costing the average homeowner in Josephine around $85 a year extra.
But even after news of last year’s rape went viral, residents narrowly decided this week to halt any attempt to milk mere pennies on the dollar for an added sense of security. On Tuesday evening the decision was too close to call in Josephine, but by Wednesday afternoon the county clerk acknowledged to RT that the public safety levy was voted down by a margin of 51 to 49 percent, with barely 500 ballots deciding the fate of a county where calling 911 is no longer the way to handle an emergency.
“There isn’t a day go by that we don’t have another victim,” Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilberson told Oregon Public Broadcasting last week. Speaking to OPB, Gilberson directly blamed the ongoing inability to fight crime on budget restraints.
“If you don’t pay the bill, you don’t get the service,” he said.